Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obesity In Schools -- It's Not Just About Food!

It's good that the government has drawn up guidelines for school canteens in view of reports that a lot of them are selling food that are not nutritious.
In fact, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Department of Nutrition and Dietetics carried out a study six years ago of 12 schools in the Klang Valley and found that most of the food served in canteens were fried and oily.

Not much has improved since as a recent survey it conducted showed that canteens were still selling snacks or, "junkfood".

Many schools were still selling nuggets, fried sausages and other fried food. But you know, these are what kids love.
And this is not peculiar to Malaysia. In Britain, most schools were found to be serving non-nutritious food to students. But, as with most kids, they love it.

In the 1985 School Canteen guidelines, nuggets, fried sausages, and nasi lemak were considered "appropriate".

The university's nutrition and dietetics department however, believed otherwise.
A revised set of guidelines came in force in 2008.

In August last year, Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that most canteens were still selling unhealthy food and snacks that could influence the eating habits of children and contribute to rising childhood obesity in the country.

The NST report HERE.

From then, the issue of bad food in school canteens was linked to rising obesity among children,.
In April this year, the ministry announced proposed guidelines on food sold in school canteens following reports that they sell less than nutritious food.

These were to replace the existing ones. The new guidelines would take into account sugar, salt, fat and oil content.

What were okay in the 2008 guidelines would not be okay in the new list -- for instance, nuggets, burgers and sausages would be banned.
Nasi lemak, fried rice and laksa are okay but can only be served twice a week.
(In school canteens, the portions (of nasi lemak, fried rice etc) are really small. )

This sparked a debate on the food children eat -- is the food they eat in that 20-minute recess at school responsible for their state of health, or the food they eat at home?

School or home? School or parents?

I find all this debate very stimulating and amusing too. All this blame game.

On Monday (April 25), the ministry announced the new guidelines.

Here's the thing -- nobody seems to see the importance of EXERCISE for children.
Let's face it, we used to eat oodles of noodles every day in school, and had those tuck shop snacks, keropok udang, Schweppes, Coke -- God knows what else.
And there was no obesity in school. I can't remember any fat school mate.
You know why? Because physical education and participation in sports were encouraged and played a major role in school.

I'm not encouraging eating unhealthy (overloaded with salt and sugar) snacks and fatty foods. But I'm looking at it from an overall perspective.
Being fit is not just about the food you eat. It is about exercising right.

I believe that we should encourage sports today, especially when the only limbs our kids are exercising are their fingers.

It's no nuclear science to figure out the cause of rising obesity among children.
Have a good look at our school curriculum and attitude of teachers to sports and physical education.

I'm not wrong to say that in many schools today, sports is low priority. Really really low.
It's a vicious cycle. You don't encourage them (to do sports, play games), they don't develop any interest and it becomes unimportant to them.

I remember that PE (physical education) was a big thing for us in school back then (in the 70s).
From the first week of school, we'd be preparing for our school sports. If you wanted to do long jump, then you'd be preparing for that event. And if you were a sprinter, you'd be preparing for that.
Also, you had to play at least two games. I never quite liked netball, but I played it anyway.
But I loved hockey and softball. There was a stint with soccer (yep, the only girls' football team in Selangor - possibly Malaysia).
And these activities were held on weekends. Attendance was compulsory. But that was irrelevant because games and sports were part of school life.
It was a state of mind.

So, you can cut this and that in the kids' diet but if they don't play games and exercise, they won't grow up healthy.

That is what is lacking in our schools -- priority on fitness.

So, really it's not just about food. You tackle obesity in kids the same way you tackle obesity in adults.
A combination of healthy eating and fitness routine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update: First Malaysia-Asean Regional Bloggers Conference (MARBC)

What an eventful and stimulating weekend it was.
I was at the 1st MARBC, organised by Blog House Malaysia, held over the weekend (April 23-24) at The Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur.
Among the participants were some very prominent bloggers from Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines who arrived at KLIA on Friday, April 22.
They were among some 40 bloggers from the region who were at the conference, themed "Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly".

On Saturday, April 23, BHM exco members, led by its president Syed Akbar Ali, and the (guest) Asean bloggers sat together the whole morning at the Sime Darby Convention Centre for the drafting of the 5-point Kuala Lumpur Consensus that was later adopted at the conference.

The (draft) KL Consensus

1. The establishment of an Asean social media and blogging network to promote understanding, good relations, unity and cooperation for regional betterment and progress of the new media practitioners in the spirit of mutual respect;
2. To assist in achieving and promoting the common values and aspirations of goodwill and to promote greater understanding and familiarity of the social media;
3. To promote the freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom from persecution;
4. To promote ethical practice of the social media; and
5. To meet regularly and promote the growth and progress of social media in Asean.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, attended the opening.
Both Najib and TDM delievered speeches.

Najib, in his speech, gave an assurance that his administration would never censor the Internet.
He said the government does not fear bloggers but wants to be part of them and know their views.
"I have said this before -- that the era of the government knows best and knows everything is over.
"The fact is, the government does not know everything."

He hoped bloggers would offer contsructive criticisms.
“I believe this relationship will be an important relationship based on mutual respect. We may not agree all the time but we cannot be disagreeable.

"But we should draw the line; if we use the cyberspace to tell lies and half truths, that is wrong. "
Najib said if bloggers worked within those parameters, he believed they could indeed play a vital part in shaping a better future for Malaysia and Asean.

Najib said Malaysians are among the most ardent Facebook fans – there are 10.1 million FB users.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that Malaysia has one of the liveliest blogospheres in the world and definitely one of the freest if not the most free.

“Malaysians have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir again for this. When he was prime minister and Malaysia was developing its Multimedia Super Corridor, Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet. My government is fully committed".

Dr Mahathir, speaking to guests and participants earlier said that blogging should be encouraged as it helped the people to become more involved in the running of their own country.

An avid blogger, Dr Mahathir said he turn to blogging as an avenue to air his views after he stepped down as prime minister as he had found that the mainstream media were not publishing his statements.

On blogging, he said bloggers should treat the government and the people fairly though their blogs which should contribute to the betterment of society.

Bloggers should be treated fairly and justly too but if they cross the line, then they should be ready to face the consequences, he said.

Dr Mahathir also remarked that mainstream media in the country should, now and then, allow themselves to be critical of the government.

Dr Mahathir is patron of Blog House Malaysia.

which organised the event, said constructive criticism should be given when it was for the betterment of the country.

He said while bloggers should give fair treatment to the government and the people through their blogsites, they themselves should be treated fairly and justly.

Read Rocky's Bru

OutSyed The Box

Another Brick In The Wall

Barking Magpie


Tony Yew

Jebat Must Die


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Asean Bloggers Conference In KL

The first Malaysian-Asean Regional Bloggers Conference will be held from Friday to Sunday at the Intercontinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

The conference, organised by the recently-registered Blog House Malaysia (BHM), is themed "Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly".

BHM president Syed Akbar Ali said there would be two workshops on Saturday for participants from 10.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm.

The topics to be covered include blogger networks and blogger etiquette.

"We are expecting 16 Asean bloggers at the conference. They will come from Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. On Sunday, our patron, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will deliver the welcoming address. Prime Minster Datuk Seri Najib Razak will then deliver the keynote address at 12.20pm, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session," he said.

For details and registration, visit - The New Straits Times

Boot Camp For Boys Who Are Effeminate...

I'll get to the point -- their schools have identified them as boys who are effeminate. I suppose based on the way they behave, talk and walk.

Then these schools sent their names to the state education department which is holding a four-day camp for these kids.

The NST carried a blurb "Boot Camp For Sissies". And got blasted by some people for using the word "sissies" which showed the newspaper to be so bigoted, so prejudiced, so so bad. People were livid.

Of course, the NST, meant no disrespect. "Sissy" by (conventional) definition refers to an effeminate boy or man, but the term now has, apparently, taken on a derogatory meaning.
But it is not NST that is making a judgment of the boys. The newspaper was using this one word to mean "boys who are effeminate" as stated by Terengganu education department director Razali Daud.

Is there another term that is socially and politically acceptable? Still means the same.
Nevertheless, the S word offended people - for that NST apologizes. It was unintentional.

Would another word make a difference to what the state education department is doing? To the obvious prejudices some people have for these kids?
That is the ISSUE.

Ok. Back to the boot camp for "these boys who display effeminate behaviour" -- I gather these kids (66 of them) aged between 13 and 17 have got their parents' permission to attend this remedial camp.

Razali did not offer details on the programme but I'm guessing that it aims at making "men" out of these boys..
And if they're all Muslims, I'm guessing that the programme will have religious input to make them "insaf".

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Sisters In Islam, in strongly-worded statements issued separately yesterday, said the department's action was in violation of laws.

Shahrizat said: "The boot camps must be abolished on the basis that they are harmful and do not serve the best interest of the child, and are therefore in clear violation of the Child Act 2001, which stated that "every child is entitled to protection and assistance in all circumstances without regard to distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin or physical, mental or emotional disabilities or any other status".

SIS said the department's policy to regulate the behaviour of students is against the basic tenants of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Malaysia ratified in 1995.

"The act of identifying and singling out boys who behave effeminately is highly discriminatory bordering on predatory. Article 2 of the CRC dictates that ALL children should be accorded equal rights and treatment without exception, the Education Department of Besut is clearly in violation of this."

Obviously, to the Terengganu Education Department, these boys are a problem. The "fact" there are many of them makes it a serious problem. So if it takes a "remedial" camp to make these boys "stronger, physically and mentally", then off a-camping they go to make them so.

Simply put, these boys are being rehabilitated. In the eyes of the department, boys must be boys. Boys who don't behave like boys, are flawed in character and this is not natural.
So the department feels that it is their responsibility to right what is wrong.

And so the boot camp is part of the solution.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A New Dawn In Sarawak?

Or business as usual?

How about a bit of both with more weight on the new dawn?

The "much-hated" Abdul Taib Mahmud won a thumping victory in his Balingian constituency, beating his closest opponent by a 5,302 vote-majority.

Taib was later sworn in as chief minister.

Of course, not quite a new dawn, that his opponents had hoped for.

Amid the vitriol and venom against Taib and his adminsitration, the Barisan Nasional won its two-thirds majority.

The results : BN : 55, DAP: 12, PKR: 3 and independent: 1.

I bet you thought that the DAP was going to make a clean sweep of all 15 seats it contested. Going by their campaigning and confidence, yeah, it looked like they were going to..
And going by the opposition parties' campaign, you'd thought that they'd form the next state government. Yeah...
Still, it was the keenest and fiercest state election. And, yes, it was a good show by the DAP. They know where their support lies and who they can depend on to give them the votes -- the urban Chinese.
Thanks also to their aggressive "Ubah" (change) campaign. That said -- the DAP is what Sarawak needs -- a strong opposition.

PKR contested in 49 seats and won in 3. Better than the 2006 elections where it won 1 seat.

As for Taib Mahmud, his victory in Balingian was thumping. He obtained a 5,302 vote-majority.

At 8.55pm, the BN won a simple majority.
A little later, it was official, that it secured a two-thirds majority, with 48 seats.

Once again, Taib delivered. His party won all the 35 seats it contested, a repeat performance of the 2006 state elections. That's 100 per cent, man. And that's the BN fixed deposit.

SUPP had some heavy casualties, among whom was its president George Chan who lost his Piasau seat to a DAP newbie Ling Sie Kiong.
The 74 year-old seven-term MP lost by a 1,590-vote majority to the 28 year-old.
As predicted, SUPP won only 6 of the 19 seats it contested to DAP (won 12 and one independent).

Shortly after the final results were made official, Taib Mahmud, wasted no time and was sworn in as chief minister -- his seventh consecutive term..

So, Sarawak woke up today to the same CM but who has promised to bring more development to the state through SCORE, and to step down from his post at a date he will disclose in good time. Could be mid-term, could be after the 13th general election...

It is, nevertheless, a new beginning for Sarawak. It has to be. The same dawn, perhaps.
But certainly, a new beginning.
Some things must change in Sarawak - for better or for worse. Even Taib knows that.

*Also read Rocky's Bru "BN Retains Sarawak With Two-Thirds Majority" HERE!
Big Dog's HERE
Marah Ku HERE
Syed Akbar's HERE
Kickdefella HERE
Jebat Must Die HERE

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When The School (And Sometimes Society) Gets It All Wrong...

I thought instances of children without birth certificates not allowed enrolment in school are all in the past. Well, I was wrong.

Eight children in Seremban were not allowed into their school because they did not have birth certificates.

Children without birth certificates should be allowed to attend school. What kind of people are we if can't even have that right? All this outdated "irregularities" that existed before should have been fixed.
Come one...Malaysia maju or not?

And if we have kids without birth certs facing problems with school enrolment, then effort must be taken to resolve their predicament, because most times it is due to ignorant/illiterate parents or some extenuating circumstances. Nothing is beyond solution.

Having birth certificates should not be the pre-requisite for school registration and enrolment.

If we are a progressive country that we want to be, then we must accept that education is the right of every child in this country. No regulation should exist to deny a child this right.

As for children without birth certs, surely some kind of documentation can be made for them to be enrolled in school.

So, therefore, hence, ergo.... of course, we can resolve their problem.

The sad thing is that the problem usually surfaces when these kids begin school.

Take the case in Seremban of 8 kids -- siblings L. Nisha, 10, Pavitra, nine, and Teeban, eight, orphaned cousins S. Meganathan, 11, and Mahaletchumy, seven, another orphan C. Jayasutha 12, K. Tamilarasi, nine, and G. Arvind, eight.

Jayasutha will be sitting for her UPSR in 5 months' time.

The kids were barred from attending classes at their school - SJKT Ladang Linsum - in February for not having birth certificates.

Firstly, I am grateful to my former colleague, Sarban Singh of The Star for highlighting the story yesterday .

I think there are many kids like them whose parents are simply unaware, illiterate and so on about the need to have birth certificates.

In some cases, it is simply poverty. Applying for birth certificates just doesn't figure in their lives.

The school had barred these kids because it was told by the state Education Department that headmasters who allowed such pupils in their schools would be fined RM1,000 for each student.

NOW, WHAT IS WRONG IN ALL THIS? I'll tell you in a while.

According to the Star report today:

"After the report was published, Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong
and Cabinet Committee on the Indian Community in the Prime Minister's Department consultant N. Siva Subramaniam stepped in to resolve the issue. Dr Wee said the ministry had issued a circular in March 2009 clarifying that as long as one parent was a citizen, children without birth certificates could attend school. Expressing regret over the episode, Siva Subramaniam said he met officials from the school and the state education department yesterday and it was decided that the pupils would be allowed to return to school.

He explained that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even if the parents were non-Malaysians, the child should be allowed to attend school after filling up the necessary documents.

He said there were many children without proper documentation in the country but all had the right to be in school."

Did I just ask you what was wrong in all this?

The attitude of the school. And that unacceptable State Education Department ruling.

In fact, going by what Dr Wee said, the headmaster got it wrong.

But, even though there exists such a stupid ruling that schools be made to pay a fine for allowing "such pupils", the school authorities - if they have it in them - should take the initiative to help these kids.

You don't have the heart? Then, at least have the brains to help those kids.

Oh...must we tell them all this?

Isn't there somewhere that tells you that you can't punish the kids because they are orphans or because their circumstances had forced them to be where they are standing right now?

Shouldn't that prompt you to help them instead of closing the door on them?

I hope, it was the headmaster who -- at his wits end -- had reached out to the Star to help him help the kids.

As for such a senseless ruling (if it at all exists) -- what a damn shame! You're not finding're perpetuating the problem, and creating new ones! So, shame on the state education department!

I think we all should play our part in ensuring that all children - including those without birth certificates -- are allowed to go to school.

Damn! Isn't it against the law to deny children an education?

That said -- I'm happy that it is a happy ending.

However, I know that there are a lot of kids out there who are in a similar situation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Luring Malaysians Abroad

Returning Malaysian professionals will be eligible for a flat rate of 15 per cent income tax for five years under its returning Experts Programme (REP), Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

He said this was to encourage more Malaysian working abroad, with their varied experience and expertise, to return and play an active part in Malaysia's economic transformation.

This transitional income tax incentive will be introduced with a host of other incentives such as new residence Passes which will enable highly-skilled foreign workers to stay in Malaysia for 10 years as well as limiting the tax free incentive for 2 cars under the REP to locally assembled vehicles.

Read more HERE.

Well, bully for you returning Malaysian professionals.

We'll just have to see if these are attractive enough for you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Romancing Sarawak (2)

It's stormy in Sarawak these days. And also getting hotter by the day.

You certainly cannot expect anything less than that when political leaders are fighting hard to woo voters -- some , for their own do or die survival, some to set the tone for "aram perubahan".

The 10th state election in Bumi Kenyalang is so intense, you can feel the heat.
Not since 1987 (the Ming Court Affair) have Sarawakians witnessed fierce fighting.

The playing field is so crowded - a record 213 candidates.

Here's a quick lowdown:

The candidates are from the ruling coalition :Parti Pesaka Bumiputra (PBB), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) while the opposition are Damocratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and PAS.

BN is contesting all 71 seats - PBB (35), SUPP (19), PRS (9) and SPDP (8) - while DAP (15), PKR (49), SNAP (26) and PAS (5).

For the first time in 24 years, no seats have been won uncontested. In 2006, BN won 2 seats uncontested, 4 in 2001 and 19 in 1996.

In the 2006 state elections, PBB won all the 35 seats it contested, SUPP won 11 out of the 19 it contested, PRS won eight of the nine and SPDP won all eight seats it contested.
DAP won six, PKR, one and Parti Cinta Malaysia, one.

To say that times have changed is an understatement. Interest in Sarawak's state elections had never been so keen either.
We've witnessed the state elections before. But always as spectators. Sarawak was, well, just there.
The results/outcome had been quite predictable. Even when during the 2001 elections, things began shifting, though quite unnoticed, we, in Semenanjung, simply watched, and let it all past. We all, know that Sarawak is BN territory. Let me rephrase that -- BN territory made up of Sarawak-based parties.
There had been attempts by Umno "to go to Sarawak" but after failing miserably even before they actually started, they stopped trying.
The message was clear. Sarawak did not need Umno (read: Semenanjung) , thank you very much.
See, although it is a fact that Sarawak BN representation in parliament had always been sizeable, that fact had been taken so much for granted - until 2008, of course.
BN looks to Sarawak as its "fixed deposit", naturally because Sarawak parties hold 30 of the 140 BN seats in parliament. When the chips were down, BN had counted on Sarawak to give it a boost.

Sarawak is at a crossroads, to put it mildly. After the elections, Sarawak will not quite be the same again.

Campaigning is fierce with, for the first time, religion - Al-Kitab issue - is being played, over and over again.

On one side is the BN led by chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who is the focus of the opposition campaign. He is the opposition's single target. He is being attacked for his 30-year tenure, alleged crony corruption, nepotism and all the mismanagement and abuse arising from that.
The impounding of 35,000 bibles in Kuching Port sometime last year had dealt the BN a hard stinging blow. The dust has not quite settled yet even after the bibles were ordered released recently (after 18 months impounded) and a 10-point solution was offered.
This issue is being used and abused, even by Christian leaders to paint the BN as anti-Christian. Bungling government officers, yes, I agree. But, surely it is most unfair, and very wrong to accuse the BN of being anti-Christian.

On his "overstaying", Taib has responded by assuring that he would be stepping down after the elections. No date, though has been mentioned.
Taib, on his campaign rounds, has retaliated, questioning as well the leadership of Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim and their dynasties as well as that of Pas' Nik Aziz and Hadi Awang.

"Menumbangkan Taib, Memerdekakan Sarawak" (Topple Taib, Free Sarawak) is among the powerful messages the opposition parties are sending out. Mostly, they're scaring the wits out of the people -- trying to convince them that Sarawak will be doomed if Taib stays.
The attacks are relentless even as he tells the people that Sarawak has seen sustainable development based on a 20-year plan, and in a lot of ways, is a model state.
Its hard core poverty and poverty levels have been drastically reduced, education has been improved and so on.

The opposition parties have even made connections and drawn parallels between him and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak (at first) and Libya's Muamar Gaddafi, goading the people to bring Taib down as the Egyptians and Libyans did with Mubarak and Gaddafi. I don't at all agree.
The premise is thoroughly flawed.

That said, I believe that Taib will make good his promise to step down. The sentiments seem to be too compelling to ignore.

On the other side are the opposition parties, mainly represented by the larger-than-life DAP. But all the same, they're gang-banging Taib and friends.

DAP is the real deal in the elections, in particular in Chinese-dominated seats. The party is no stranger in/to Sarawak, having made its entry in 1978 and capturing Bandar Kuching as its first parliamentary constituency in the state four years later (1982).

Sim Kwang Yang served as Bandar Kuching MP until1995. As it is, the DAP is confident of making a clean sweep of the 15 seats it is contesting although independent sources say 12 are already in their hands.

No surprises if they do well because they have been campaigning unremittingly in the Chinese areas.

PKR, on the other hand, has an uphill battle. Unlike DAP, PKR has always been viewed with suspicion in this land where Dayak and Iban nationalism is strong.

PKR is "parti Melayu Malaya" or "parti Melayu Semananjung" -- and it is contesting in mostly ethnically mixed seats.
PAS is just going for the ride.

Everyone's media tools are working overtime. It's how you're going to perceive the spin and propaganda -- between perception and reality.

But, as I write this, the DAP and friends are hitting the Chinese-dominated urban areas with heavy artillery.

So, on Saturday, Sarawakians will have to decide where they want to take their beloved state. Do they want change or Ubah under the DAP, PKR or/and PAS? Or give their trust in and the mandate to the BN for continued progress . Mansang!

Of course several factors come into play -- the young voters which make up a third of the 979,796 registered voters, with 300,000 of them below 40 years old. The largest concentration is in Kuching (numbering 85,000), followed by Sibu (54,000) and the Dayak votes (how seriously they view land and the Al-Kitab issues, whether Dayakism remain strong in some areas, while loyalty to BN in other areas) .

Whatever it is, Sarawak will never be the same again.

And that should be a good thing...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

10-Point Solution To The Bible Issue

Press Statement By Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala

The Government confirmed that it has been in dialogue with the Christian groups to look into their specific requests on the Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia Bible and also other religious issues. Taking into account the polarity of views of the different religious groups, including the Muslims, the Government decided on a 10-point solution.

1. Bibles in all languages can be imported into the country, including Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia.

2.These Bibles can also be printed locally in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. This is a new development which should be welcome by the Christian groups.

3. Bibles in indigenous languages of Sabah and Sarawak such as Iban, Kadazan-Dusun and Lun Bawang can also be printed locally and imported.

4. For Sabah and Sarawak, in recognition of the large Christian community in these states, there are no conditions attached to the importation and local printing of the Bibles in all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia and indigenous languages. There is no requirement for any stamp or serial number.

5. Taking into account the interest of the larger Muslim community, for Peninsula Malaysia, Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia, imported or printed, must have the words "Christian Publication" and the cross sign printed on the front covers.

6. In the spirit of 1Malaysia and recognising that many people travel between Sabah and Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia, there should be no prohibitions and restrictions for people who bring along their bibles and Christian materials on such travel.

7. A directive on the Bible has been issued by the Ketua Setiausaha (KSU) of the Home Ministry to ensure proper implementation of this cabinet decision. Failure to comply will subject the officers to disciplinary action under the General Orders. A comprehensive briefing by top officials, including the Attorney General (AG), will be given to all relevant civil servants to ensure good understanding and proper implementation of the directive.

8. For the impounded Bibles in Kuching, Gideon, the importer can collect all the 30,000 Bibles free of charge. We undertake to ensure the parties involved are reimbursed. The same offer remains available for the importer of the 5,100 Bibles in Port Klang, which have already been collected by the Bible Society Malaysia (BSM) last week.

9. Beyond the Bible issue, the Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to work with the Christian groups and all the different religious groups in order to address inter religious issues and work towards the fulfilment of all religious aspirations in accordance with the constitution, taking into account the other relevant laws of the country. In order to bring urgency to this work, the Prime Minister will meet the representatives of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) soon to discuss the way forward.

10. The Christian Ministers in the cabinet will meet on a regular basis with representatives of the various Christian groups in order to discuss their issues and work with the relevant Ministries and PM in order to resolve them.

Idris said:

"I hope this 10 point solution will be received positively by the Christian groups as being fair and reasonable. We have to look for a solution that deals with the Bible issues and also put a way forward to handle other issues raised by the Christian groups.

"I think the Bible issue is very unfortunate, and in the spirit of Lent, it is time for sacrifice, reconciliation and forgiveness.

"In our history as a young nation, we achieved a lot in a short period of time, but we have our shortcomings.

"The Government and our civil servants are not perfect as indeed all human beings are “beautifully imperfect” in the eyes of God.

"And for all our shortcomings in handling the Bible issue, I hope the Christians would find it in their hearts to forgive us.

"In my Church at SIBKL, we have been praying for a Christian revival to take place in our country. For all the hurt that exist as a result of our differences, I believe that we need healing, forgiveness and reconciliation in this country.

"The Bible says in Matthew 18: 21-22 “ Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.